By Karen Zautyk
The Nutley Irish American Association last week introduced to the public the dignitaries who will lead its 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Those among you not of Celtic blood are likely thinking, “Already? But the parade isn’t until March.”
What you should know is that planning for the annual celebration usually begins about five minutes after the previous parade ends. And it’s already more than halfway to St. Patrick’s Day! Selection of the dignitaries is in no way premature.
Leading the line of march will be Grand Marshal Charles E. O’Mara. Deputy Grand Marshal is Ann E. Morris. The organization’s Member of the Year is Joe Milbauer, and the 2015 Parade Queen is Diandra Kelly.
In 2015, for the first time, the Nutley Irish will also begin honoring members of the local uniformed services. The inaugural choice is Lt. John E. Redstone, as Firefighter of the Year.
Grand Marshal O’Mara is a third-generation Irish American whose maternal great-grandparents emigrated from County Wicklow in 1888. His paternal great-grandparents also came a long way, from Tipperary.
O’Mara notes that he also “hails from a long line of Teamsters.” A member of the union since 1976, when he worked for the Wakefern Food Corp., he has served as business agent/delegate for Teamsters Local 863 for the last 10 years.
O’Mara and his wife, Eileen (nee Maher), and their children Charles, Carly and Casey live in Nutley, in the same house where he grew up, the one his parents purchased when they moved to the town in 1963.
Deputy Grand Marshal Morris, who retains a lovely Irish lilt in her voice, came to the United States — and Belleville — in 1961 and is very active in the community. Asked to list her affiliations, she started to name them: “The Belleville Irish, the Nutley Irish, the Giblin Association, the . . . oh, anything Irish!”
She’s originally from Kells in County Meath, the town from which the exquisite medieval illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells, takes its name. With Morris’ selection as the parade honoree, Kells can now boast that it was home to two treasures.
Milbauer is a resident of New Providence but is also part of the Nutley business community. He is president of J. Milbauer Solutions LLC, an insurance agency with offices on Franklin Ave.
A member of the Nutley Irish for seven years, he has been a club trustee for the last three and is the 2015 post-parade chairman, which means he will be organizing the extremely popular after party.
Kelly was born and raised in Nutley as one of six siblings — five girls, one boy. She graduated from Mount St. Dominic Academy in Caldwell and received her degree in 2012 from Georgia Tech. She is now a consultant with Deloitte & Touche.
Kelly told The Observer: “I’m honored, and humbled, to have been chosen [as Parade Queen], because my grandfather [John V. Kelly] was one of the founders of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.” That was back in 1979, and the Nutley Irish have been the organizers ever since.
Redstone moved to Nutley in 1994 and joined the Volunteer Fire Department the following year. He served as a volunteer for eight years and in 2002 was hired as a paid member of the NFD.
Recently promoted to lieutenant, he is the department’s chief fire inspector and housing inspector.
By the way, he also plays the bagpipes. He’s a member of the Essex County Emerald Society Pipes & Drums, a band comprising police officers and firefighters.
And before you ask (everyone does), he’s 6-foot-10.
(Editor›s note: The Nutley Irish meet on the third Thursday of the month at 8 p.m. at the VFW on Washington Ave. New members are always welcome. For more information, visit www.nutleyirish.com)